The SmarK Retro Rant for the Best of Starrcade 83-87.
LET’S GET OLD SCHOOL!
This was a tape put out by Crockett in early 88 to celebrate five years of Starrcade, and it’s an unheard-of two tape, four-hour collection of uncut matches from 83-87, and the matchlist shows some truly amazing foresight on the part of the people making the selections. It was in pretty good supply up until a few years ago, too, with most Blockbusters carrying it. And PLEASE don’t e-mail me asking if you can get a copy from me, because it’ll go straight to the recycle bin. Try your local video store or ask at the Death Valley Driver board (www.deathvalleydriver.com) because I’m sure someone there would be more than happy to get you a copy.
- Your host is Magnum TA
- Dog collar match: Greg Valentine v. Rowdy Roddy Piper. Valentine was the US champion, but this is non-title due to the gimmick match. Bigtime bloodfeud here as Piper was crazy over as a babyface. They play tug-of-war with the chain to start, using their necks. Piper whips him with the chain and Valentine backs off. Valentine tries to whip Piper in turn and fails. Slugfest and they back off again. Piper blitzes him, and crotches him with the chain, but Valentinue uses the chain to nail Piper in the injured ear and rubs it in. Ouch. Greg drops the hammer, but Piper kneelifts him and chokes him out. Cool spot sees Piper wrap the chain around the post to trap Valentine in the corner and beat him down with the chain. Greg blades. Valentine chokes him down and Piper bails. They start whipping each other with the chain and slug it out on the apron. Greg goes to the ear to take over. He posts Piper and the ear starts GUSHING blood. Valentine pounds on the ear with the chain. That’s sick. Piper blocks a suplex with a chainshot, but gets elbowed in the ear. Hammer elbow gets two. Another one gets two. Piper spears him and stomps away, but has no balance due to the ear injury. He destroys him with the chain and wins a slugfest, but Valentine clotheslines the dizzy Piper and gets a kneedrop for two. Piper reverses a suplex for the double-KO as Piper bleeds like a pig. Valentine sleeper attempt has Solie writing the match off and nearly packing up the headset to leave, but Piper rears back and KO’s him with the chain. Greg gets a pair of elbows, and misses one off the 2nd rope, allowing Piper to get a fluke pin at 15:15. Slowish but intense and sick brawl. ***1/2 Valentine absolutely massacres Piper afterwards.
- NWA World tag title match: Jack & Jerry Brisco v. Rick Steamboat & Jay Youngblood. Jerry went on to become current McMahon stooge Gerald Brisco, of course, while Youngblood was killed in a plane crash fairly soon after this, sending Steamboat into singles again. Jack & Steamboat start and Jack escapes a chop off a leapfrog sequence. Steamboat gets an armdrag, so Jerry comes in. He can’t get anywhere with Steamboat hiding in the corner. He tries whipping him post to post, but it backfires and Youngblood comes in to work a headlock. Jerry slams out of a hammerlock, but Youngblood simply hangs on. Steamboat comes off the top as they work on Jerry’s arm and prevent a tag. Steamboat gets caught in the heel corner and Jack hotshots him. Kneedrop and Jack hits the chinlock. Steamboat escapes, but gets backdropped and butterfly suplexed for two. Brisco keeps holding a bridge on the pinfall attempt for more near-falls. Now THAT’S cool. Hiptoss into a short-arm scissors gets two. Sweet. Steamboat powers out with that goofy spot you never see anymore, hot tag Youngblood. Jack reverses a suplex, however. D’oh! Briscoes hit a double-shoulderblock and Jerry gets two. Drop suplex gets two. Abdominal stretch rollup gets two. An argument between Jerry and special ref Angelo Mosca allows Jay to get the tag, and it’s HELL ON EARTH. Okay, Solie would never say that, but you’ve gotta change it up sometimes. Big chops for Gerry. Double-chop and Steamboat presses Jay onto Jerry for the pin and the titles at 12:00. Great little fast-paced match there. ***1/2
- NWA World title, cage match: Harley Race v. Ric Flair. This was the culmination of the title bouncing around a few times in the early 80s between Race, Rhodes, Flair and what was supposed to be Ted Dibiase. However, Dibiase got screwed over by politics and ended up never getting that title reign. Flair was the underdog babyface here and Race was the grizzled heel. Flair works a headlock to start, frustrating Race. Flair elbows him and hits the chinlock, and back to a headlock. He walks into a knee, but Race misses a headbutt. Back to the headlock for Flair. He uses it for a couple of two counts. Race suplexes out for two. Elbowdrop misses, but Flair can’t slam him. Race drops a knee and grinds it in, and does it again. Piledriver, but Race doesn’t cover, choosing to wait and drop an elbow instead for two. Neckbreaker gets two. Race keeps dropping knees on Flair’s head like a jerk, then rams him into the cage and hits a shoulderbreaker for two. Flair slugs away from his knees, but Race headbutts him into paste. Back to the cage, but Flair won’t go down. Race argues with special ref Gene Kiniski, as Flair blades. Flair comes back, but gets headbutted again. Flair reverses a cross-corner whip and sends Race to the cage, equalling up the blood tally. Flair styles and profiles, as he stomps Race. Piledriver gets two. Flair works the neck and gets a butterfly suplex for two. Back to the cage a few times, making sure Race hits the pole. Race headbutts him low and rubs his face into the cage. Race tosses him into the cage again, but Flair won’t go down. Headbutt, Flair won’t go down. Flair clips him and drops an elbow, then hammers on the cut. Flair’s face is just a mess of blood. Backdrop suplex sets up the figure-four clean in the middle, but Race eventually reverses. Race headbutts him again and now he goes down. Flair reverses a suplex for two. Race headbutts him down and comes off the 2nd rope with another one for two. Suplex gets two. Race keeps pounding on him, and Solie again declares everything over for the challenger. Flair of course chooses that moment to come back, blocking a suplex and getting one of his own, but misses an elbow. Race headbutts Kiniski by mistake, and Flair goes up with a bodypress to regain the title at 23:46. Kiniski actually blew the spot, as the idea was that Race would knock him down and Gene would get on his hands and knees and trip up Race from behind on the bodypress. Kiniski, however, got up too soon and wasn’t in position to execute properly. Doesn’t hurt an otherwise excellent match too much, but it’s pretty noticeable. Nothing you’d call state-of-the-art here, but everything they did was done well and there was no resting, and Flair’s selling job was something to behold. ****1/2 All the babyfaces celebrate with Flair.
- World TV title match: Tully Blanchard v. Rick Steamboat. Steamboat is coming in with those pesky DDPish injured ribs. Blanchard goes right for them, but Steamboat fires back and Tully bails. Steamboat suplexes him in and gets a splash for two. Steamboat goes to the chinlock and holds on to it as Tully tries to roll out. Tully misses an elbow and takes a kneelift, but Steamboat can’t do anything because of the ribs. Tully goes for them and hits a rib-breaker. Elbow and Steamboat is in some pain. Tully just viciously kicks away at him and struts. Steamboat fights back with a chops and a drops a pair of knees for two. Hit the chinlock. Tully knees him in the ribs like a jerk and suplexes him for two. Steamboat grabs a headlock, but Tully breaks. He dances around, taunting Steamboat, but gets powerslammed for two. Double-chop gets two. Kneedrop and big chop get two. Steamboat spits on him (!) and chops away in the corner. Tully is on rubber leg street. Neckbreaker gets two. Steamboat pulls out Tully’s slingshot suplex for two. Dropkick gets two. Chop and Tully bails, then goes to the tights for an international object. Steamboat suplexes him in and gets a face full of brass knux, for two. To the top, but Steamboat blocks a superplex and splashes him for two. Sunset flip, but Tully blocks and utilizes the international object for the pin at 13:12. Didn’t like the finish, but the match was awesome. Don’t worry, though – Tully gets his in just a little bit… ****
- NWA World title match: Ric Flair v. Dusty Rhodes. Smokin’ Joe Frazier is YOUR special guest referee, and this is for $1,000,000. Solie notes that Dusty is “carrying a little weight” for this match. Well, there’s your understatement of the year. Dusty works the headlock, but Flair chops him. Dusty fires back as Solie then goes over his atheletic background, including a football stint playing the offensive line. The whole thing? Rhodes misses an elbow and Flair chops at him and gets a knee for two. Another one misses and Dusty gets a figure-four. Flair makes the ropes. They roll around the mat, accomplishing nothing. Dusty wins a wristlock battle and elbows him down. Slam and Flair Flop is followed closely by the Flair Flip as he bails. Rhodes suplexes him in for two. Flair goes up and gets slammed off, but Dusty misses an elbow. He just won’t sell here. Flair gets a sleeper, but Dusty dumps him. They brawl and Dusty has an intimate encounter with the ringpost and does his best move – a gory bladejob. Joe Frazier keeps trying to check the cut, but Flair attacks it. Dusty fights back but the match is stopped at 12:07. This is of course the prototype for the Flair-Luger finish at Bash 88 that flopped even worse. Match was too short to be worth anything, and there was no real flow or pace. *1/2
- “I Quit” cage match, US title: Tully Blanchard v. Magnum TA. Backstory: They HATE each other. That’s all you need. They slug it out, and fight on the mat like schoolkids, then slug it out again. Tully bails to the apron and TA rams him to the cage. Tully responds in kind, then drops an elbow and does it again. Rear chinlock and Magnum powers out in a rather famous visual. He presses Tully onto the top rope, but gets kneelifted. He slugs away on Tully, but gets tossed into the cage again and they fight on the mat. Tully goes to the cage, and then again out of a hammerlocked position. His arm starts gushing blood, but he headbutts Magnum low. Magnum keeps digging at that arm, but Tully potatoes him, and busts him open. Tully kicks away and uses the mike to pound on Magnum’s face and ask for the submission. Magnum refuses, so Tully rams it into his forehead four times. They actually do this a few times, resulting in the crowd hearing this charming exchange over the PA: “SAY IT!” “NO!” THUNK. Hotshot into the cage and Tully goes up and hits an elbow, then more hijinx with the mike. “SAY IT!” “NO!” THUNK. They slug it out, won by Magnum, and he uses the mike himself. “SAY IT!” “NO!” THUNK. They claw at each other’s eyes on the mat, and Tully knocks TA silly with a right. TA hits his own and grabs the mike, but Tully kicks him in the head to block. Inverted atomic drop and Tully just destroys him with the mike. “SAY IT!” “NO!” THUNK THUNK THUNK He drops some elbows and tosses the ref aside, as Baby Doll throws a balsa-wood chair in, which shatters upon hitting the mat. Ah, American workmanship. Tully grabs a piece and tries to stab Magnum in the eye, but it’s blocked. Magnum grabs it from him, jams it into Tully’s eye, and gets the submission and US title at 14:22. And you thought Mick Foley was hardcore. *****
- NWA World tag team title, cage match: Ivan & Nikita Koloff v. The Rock N Roll Express. This was the Express’ first real shot at winning the belts, as their prime in the sport proved to be only a couple of years. Nikita & Ricky Morton start, and Nikita overpowers Ricky. Morton dropkicks him to no effect. Ivan comes in and gets bodypressed, but crotches Ricky on the top for two. Robert Gibson comes in with a dropkick, slam and kneedrop for two. Ricky gets a fistdrop for two. Robert rolls him up for two. They double-team Ivan for two. Robert ducks a sickle and sends Ivan to the cage, and Ricky comes in with a fistdrop. Again, for two. Robert does the same for two, but gets caught in the communist corner and hotshotted into the cage by Nikita. To the cage another two times for good luck. Ricky keeps charging in like a madman, allowing the Russians to double-team. Ivan sends Robert to the cage and drops an elbow for two. Nikita bites him and poses, and they champs double-team again for two. Ivan crotches himself, but Robert can’t tag. Ricky charges in again, allowing more shenanigans. Ivan drops a leg for two. Nikita hits a chinlock as Robert bleeds. Ivan maintains control and gets two. Back to the cage via Nikita. Robert dropkicks Ivan, bumping the ref. RUSSIAN SICKLE OF DOOM for Robert, no ref. Rick sneaks in on a hot tag, rolls up Ivan, and gets the tag titles at 12:18, nearly blowing the roof off the arena. God, I don’t know how the screaming girls in the audience could keep up the volume for 12 minutes, but somehow they did. The RNR were so over with the females that they made Buff Bagwell look like Harley Race. ***
- Skywalker match: The Midnight Express v. The Road Warriors. This match has somehow acquired a historic slant that it doesn’t deserve. The Express takes forever to climb up. They all slug it out while crawling around. Condrey and Eaton both toss powder at the Warriors. Hawk gets close to falling off the scaffold, as does Eaton. Both grab a ladder and hang on, however. Both of the Express blade soon after. Dennis crawl away to escape, so Hawk kicks him in the head and they fight on the ladder. Now Animal and Eaton join them, they chickenfight under the scaffolding, and the Express falls off at 7;16. Cornette climbs up to escape Ellering soon after, and gets knocked off himself, buggering his knee for the rest of his life as a result. *
- NWA World tag title, cage match: The Rock N Roll Express v. Ole & Arn Anderson. Robert dodges Ole and a pier-six erupts early. Arn gets caught in the wrong corner and retreats. Ole comes in, but can’t escape the RNR either. Ricky outguns him with some speed, and the Horsemen regroup again. Arn tries with Morton, but gets reversed to death. Rock N Roll work the arm, but Robert misses a charge and kneelifts the cage by mistake. Ouch. The Andersons just DIVE for the knee and destroy it. Robert kicks out of a figure-four, but Ole keeps up the punishment with a stepover toehold. Arn goes knee-to-knee on Robert and grinds it in. Robert gets an enzuigiri, tags Ricky, and he promptly goes facefirst to the cage to put a stop to THAT. Ricky Morton plays Ricky Morton and all is right with the world. Ole gets two off a snapmare and Arn bites at him. Back to the cage goes Ricky, and Ole methodically stomps away. Ricky bleeds huge. Arn switches to the arm and Ole keeps at it, slapping an armbar on. Hammerlock slam from Arn gets a pop and he goes to the 2nd rope, but gets nailed coming down. Ole comes in and pounds the arm, however, preventing a tag. Shoulderbreaker gets two. Morton kneelifts Arn, but can’t tag. Ole uses a stepover armlock, and Rick fires back, but Ole keeps at the arm. Rick fights back again, but gets double-teamed INCHES from the tag. The crowd is just about ready to riot at this point. He staggers up and walks into a spinebuster from Arn. D’oh. Ole comes off the top with a kneedrop onto Ricky’s arm, but Ricky won’t quit. Double-KO, but Ricky can’t capitalize. He fires away on Arn, lunges for the tag…and Ole nails him, giving the crowd a heart attack. That’s just mean booking. He small packages Ole for two as Robert finally has had enough and brawls with Arn, distracting the ref long enough for the Express to double dropkick Ole and Ricky gets the pin with his last burst of energy to retain at 19:00. CLASSIC Ricky Morton here. ****
- US title match, cage: Lex Luger v. Dusty Rhodes. If ever anyone earned the Poochie moniker, it's Dusty Rhodes. I'm shocked he settled for booking himself in the US title match. This is Luger's title v. Rhodes' career. That's hardly a fair trade. Luger is still way green at this point. Luger misses the Elbow Which Doth Never Hit and Rhodes goes to work on the arm. Luger comes back and rams Dusty into the cage -- and I hope you're sitting down, cuz here comes a shocking development -- and Rhodes bleeds. Yeah, I know, I'm sitting here thinking "Dusty...blade? In what universe?" but here it is, captured on tape: Dusty actually bleeding. Luger hits the Elbow Which Doth Never Hit. Dusty pulls out a Watts-ian dropkick. Man, that was uglier than Rhodes and his kid combined. Luger gets the Rack, but Dusty is JUST TOO FAT. Who'd have thunk it'd be an advantage to be grossly overweight? I love reviewing Dusty's matches...it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Seemingly the only reason for the cage's existance here was to give Big Dust the chance to bleed, because otherwise it's a standard match and the cage is basically ignored. Luger holds move #193 (ARM-bar) for an extended period of time. Dusty jiggles his fat and makes the comeback. And people think PIPER exposes the business? This fat fuck was out there from 1901 until almost the present day before he finally took the fucking hint and retired. But not until he foisted his idiot son on us. Rhodes gets the sleeperhold, but Dillon knocks out Johnny Weaver (the keeper of the key) and tosses a chair in for Luger. Luger....slowly....picks....up.....the.....chair, allowing Dusty the time to peel his digusting fat ass off the mat and DDT Luger on the chair (no, that wasn't contrived or unbelievable in the least, Dusty) for the pin and the US title at 16:23. Do I seem bitter? *
- NWA World title match: Ron Garvin v. Ric Flair. Everyone always asks why Garvin got the title -- short answer is "There was no one else". Flair wanted to lose the title and regain it at Starrcade, but there was no top babyfaces who were dumb enough to agree to be a lameduck champion. So they got Garvin, who was dumb enough to agree to anything. And then because none of the top heels were dumb enough to put Garvin over when everyone knew Flair was just getting the belt back anyway, they all refused to job to him. So Garvin took a "sabbatical", thus making him a thoroughly useless champion in the eyes of the fans and the bookers. No wonder Crockett went broke. Inspirational babyface Garvin gets soundly booed by the fans. Again, the first few minutes of this match are clipped. And again, the full version is on Best of Starrcade. We pick it up with Garvin delivering the 10 punch count, and then the GARVIN STOMP OF SLIGHT DISCOMFORT! Flair retaliates with the Great Equalizer and Garvin does a terrible selling job. C'mon, Ronnie, you just got hit in the nuts by the dirtiest player in the game, show some emotion! Flair bounces around the body parts for a bit, then settles on the good ol' knee. Usual stuff...kneedrops, kneebreaker and then the figure-four. Why does Flair let go when Young looks? It's no-DQ. Oh well, habit I guess. Garvin reverses. Crowd rewards him with a "Garvin sucks" chant. This was 1987, remember, years before ECW trained fans to be that cynical. Flair decides to have a blading contest with Dusty and taps an artery. They fight to the top of the cage but it goes nowhere. Flair gets slammed off the top and Garvin does his own figure-four, which makes no sense because Flair hasn't sold any knee injuries in this match. Flair of course sells like he's being stabbed. Flair escapes, but Garvin gets to the top and hits a flying bodypress for two. Backslide for two. Flair refreshes his blade job and they climb to the top again. Flair, of course, gets crotched on the top rope as a result, but when Garvin goes for the SUNSET FLIP OF DOOM, Flair sits down and gets two. Garvin reverses for two. Young gets bumped mildly and Garvin hits the PUNCH OF DEATH for two. Garvin goes for something vaguely resembling a cross between a Thesz press and a bodypress, but Flair falls back and slams Garvin's head into the cage and gets the pin at 17:25 to put us out of our misery. Hope you enjoyed your one brush with greatness, Ron, you won't get a second one. Huge pop for Flair. So-so match with a weak ending. **1/2
- Okay, so I stole that last two match reviews from my Starrcade 87 rant, so sue me. Like I’m gonna sit through Flair-Garvin again.
Starrcade 85, Redux.
- NWA World title match: Ric Flair v. Dusty Rhodes. This is the match that started the downward slide of the NWA. As usual, blame Dusty. I don’t know why they’re closing the tape with it, aside from the obvious ego issues with Rhodes. Slugfest to start, won by Dusty. Flair bails. Back in, it’s chop v. elbow. Guess which wins. Flair bails again. Dusty works a hammerlock, and that goes a while. Flair chops away and drops the knee for two. Kick to the knee and Dusty bails. This was after the Horsemen broke his leg in the parking lot, I believe, because Dusty is wearing one cowboy boot and one special orthapedic cowboy boot. Dusty elbows him from the apron and works on the knee back in. Flair tries a suplex, but Dusty’s localized gravitational pull prevents it. He reverses and keeps at Flair’s knee. His method is basically laying motionless on Flair’s leg. Flair sleeper, but Rhodes escapes and wraps Flair’s leg around the post. Chops are no-sold and Dusty comes back with his own pork-chops, but Flair comes back and goes to the top rope. Quick, kids, what happens next? That’s right, he gets SLAMMED OFF. Flair and Rhodes each block a figure-four, and they slug it out. Flair Flip and they brawl, with Flair hitting the post. Back in, Dusty goes up and tries a bodypress, which ends up as Dusty belly-flopping off the top onto him for two. Good lord, I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Dusty hammers on the cut, Flair Flop. Flair comes back, goes after the leg, and gets the figure-four. Dusty easily reverses to break. Elbows and lariat get two for Rhodes. Ref gets bumped on the kickout and tossed. Dusty gets a figure-four, but the Andersons run in and nail him. New ref in, Flair gets two. Dusty cradles for the pin and the title at 22:07. The next week the decision was overturned due to outside interference, marking the very first occurance on a major show of the Dusty Finish. Fear not, junior campers, Dusty would book himself over Flair cleanly a few months later to win his third World title for real. **1/2
The Bottom Line: Well, I didn’t really need all the Dusty Rhodes, but otherwise this is an awesome compilation of all the great stuff from the first 5 Starrcades, and truly has something for everyone, be it scientific wrestling, gory brawling, freakshow gimmick matches or Ron Garvin.
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